In our connected world, data is all around us. We generate data, we use data and we store data at an ever-increasing rate. This comes at a price: The data storage industry could soon account for 20% of global energy usage while creating more CO2 than the aviation industry. But what if the storage of data could actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere? In their interactive installation Data Garden, designers and artists Cyrus Clarke and Monika Seyfried propose an organism-based data center. It utilizes DNA technology to store and retrieve digital data from the DNA of plants, which in return create energy and absorb CO2. At Falling Walls, Seyfried and Clarke discuss how DNA can be used to store data for thousands of years. They also share insights from their project “Grow your Own Cloud” which has demonstrated the viability of the concept and which represents an environmentally sustainable path to satisfying our data storage needs while also addressing the climate crisis.
Data Garden: Breaking the Wall to Storing Data in Plants
Cyrus Clarke, Monika Seyfried
Grow Your Own Cloud
Cyrus is a designer, artist and futurist with a background in economics and digital technologies. He is passionate about reforming human–nonhuman relationships by establishing new models of cooperation between human beings, living systems and inanimate technologies. Looking to the natural world for inspiration, he seeks to promote futures rooted in biological wisdom, through a deep partnership with nature, towards the strange and uncanny.
His focus lies on shifting notions of nature and technology through the creation of artistic pieces ranging from film, mixed-media installations, fictions, live experiences and genetic software. In particular he is fascinated by data as a material, working with nature as a technology to re-frame human relationships with organic and constructed systems, and initiate discussion on the ethical, environmental, political and socioeconomic implications of the technology filled worlds we are rushing to create.
Grow Your Own Cloud
Monika is an Interaction Designer who works across the disciplines of science, ethics and futures.
Through her design work, Monika engages at the intersection of emerging technologies, digital media and the natural environment, creating sensory rich, interactive spaces. Her passion is to build immersive experiences; mixed reality worlds that blend the digital and physical, working with a speculative mindset and experimenting with design approaches. In her latest work she’s been exploring how design, art and science, in particular the field of biotechnology, can create immersive spaces for the creation of new futures.
Her research focuses on how living systems and the natural world can help us to establish new perspectives on the future of technology and ecosystems. Monika’s focus lies in the role of ethics in the design process.
In recent years she was involved in European Commission research projects that explored topics of Critical Heritages, Fusion Energy Futures and Ethics & Technology collaborating with the institutions such as LSE, Newcastle University and IT University of Copenhagen.